ROGERS CITY -Rogers City's skyline will change dramatically when a 300-foot crane goes into service at the Port of Calcite later this year. Purchase of the Manitowoc 16000 crane and other improvements means Michigan industries will be able to ship more goods by freighter and barge to ports elsewhere, officials said.
The Port of Calcite Cooperative project was unveiled to the public Friday at the Rogers City Senior and Community Center. A standing-room only crowd of some 150 people greeted the development with enthusiasm.
"It's all good," City Manager Mark Slown said.
When the weather gets better, improvements will be made to the dock, and the crane, shipped by boat, will be set up, he said.
"Having the capability of this crane will allow other industries to use it," Slown said. "It will help existing industries grow and there is the possibility it will attract more industries."
Some of the agencies involved in the cooperative are estimating the region could reap more than $100 million in economic benefits over the next 10 years.
A long-term lease between Moran Iron Works and Carmeuse Lime & Stone set the stage for upgrades to the deep water port, owner Tom Moran said. Under the leadership of Joe Libby, the Presque Isle County Economic Development Corp. purchased the crane, which is being built in Manitowoc, Wis., In return, Moran agreed to lease the new crane for 10 years, which will help pay for it.
In another move, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. offered a $2 million performance grant. For each new employee Moran hires, the MEDC contributes a portion of the grant to the port's improvements.
"All of the hard work the last 34 years is just now starting to come to fruition," said Moran Iron Works spokeswoman Marilyn Kapp, who also attended the meeting. The Onaway-based company employs 98 people and is planning to add at least another 75 now that the high-capacity crane can move more products for shipping.
"It gives employees confidence they are going to be working here for a really, really long time," Kapp said.
"This is a perfect example of local government and local industry working with the state to bring economic development to the area," Rep. Peter Pettalia said.
An improved business tax climate also has helped, he said.
"You plant a seed and jobs grow."
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.